I recently sent an email filled with dating tips for men who are early in their reboot.
One of our brothers replied to a particular section in the email and I wanted to share his question and my answer with everyone in the group. He said:
“J.K., in your email you mentioned that ‘Having sex with women you aren’t in a committed relationship with will always put your reboot at risk.’ I’m curious why you believe this is the case. Some men in the group are not currently in committed relationships but would still like to have sex lives.”
The quote this brother pulled removes all the context that surrounded it. My original sentence read:
“Take time to get to know the women you are dating. Having sex with women you aren’t in a committed relationship with will always put your reboot at risk. Slow things down and take the weeks or months needed to determine whether this woman is somebody you’re actually interested in.”
I don’t want this message to be misconstrued because I don’t have anything against strictly sexual relationships. I think it’s good for men to have sex during their reboot; learning how to reengage with women that way is critical. But the way you go about developing those relationships is important.
A lot of men do not understand that they’re missing the intimacy portion when it comes to sexual relationships. Pornography addiction destroys your understanding of intimacy because porn strips all intimacy out of the equation. It appeals only to your most basic primal urges, but sex in real life doesn’t work that way.
However, until you understand how to build intimacy, sex will always put your reboot at risk. That’s the important distinction I need you to recognize. You cannot develop healthy sexual partnerships (including uncommitted partnerships!) if you do not know how to have an intimate connection with the woman you’re sleeping with.
What are some of the risks that come with uncommitted sex?
There’s a lot to learn when you begin the reboot process. Developing emotional awareness and maturity is one of the most difficult parts. You’ve spent so many years numbing and suppressing your emotions that you don’t know how to sit with them at the beginning of your porn addiction recovery.
Having sex outside of a committed relationship means more emotional unpredictability. When you don’t know the woman well you’re not going to know how they’ll react. If you’re still learning to identify your emotions, this possible emotional volatility on her part can negatively impact your ability to manage your feelings.
Inconsistent Sexual Experiences
Developing intimacy is easier when you’re in a committed relationship. You have consistent experiences and can learn about your partner’s particular preferences. You’re more likely to develop healthy sexual behavior at a consistent pace when you have sex in these circumstances.
Having sex with different partners creates an inconsistent experience. You can’t apply a standard across the board; every woman is different. Each has her preferences, needs, and responses to sexual relationships. Intimacy may look different to each of these women, too. You’re going to have a harder time learning to develop intimacy with inconsistent partners.
Expectations are the root of many of life’s troubles. People feel let down when they develop expectations of another person that end up unmet. The longer you spend with someone in a committed relationship, the easier it will be to develop healthy expectations of that person. You have a general idea of who they are, how they behave, and what each of you needs.
When you’re not in a committed relationship, though, expectations are harder to manage. You may only want consistent sex while her expectations are more along the lines of going on fun dates. Misaligned expectations can lead to some uncomfortable conversations. If you don’t have the skills to navigate these conversations yet, you’re far more likely to medicate that discomfort with porn or masturbation.
Developing Healthy Boundaries
The best way for you to have sex outside of a committed relationship is to first learn about yourself and your needs. You must understand what it is you want from a casual partner so you can communicate those needs effectively. If you’re not able to determine what they are or you have a hard time setting and maintaining those boundaries, it’s better to focus on yourself for the time being.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with casual sex. I think it’s great to get that out of your system before settling down with a long-term partner. Once you know where your boundaries lie and how to share those boundaries with your potential partners, then you’re more ready for some uncommitted, enjoyable, casual partnerships.